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Exploring the role of formality in voice and silence research


Project Description

When employees voluntarily communicate suggestions, concerns, problems, or work-related opinions to a more senior person, they are engaging in voice. Being able to raise issues is important for both employee wellbeing and organisational performance, but speaking up if you see something of concern is anything but simple. Organisations are not always places which appear conducive to voice. For example, formal power differences highlighted by hierarchical structures cause employees to feel that speaking up is risky (Jablin, 1979; Detert and Treviño, 2010). Also, formal role requirements lead to employees and managers working different shift patterns and covering different geographical locations reducing opportunities for voice (Glauser, 1984), and the provision of formal and informal voice mechanisms can affect propensity to voice and effectiveness of voice (Harlos, 2001; Brooks, 2017). Organisational practices and structures have been highlighted as an important area of influence over voice and silence but have received very little empirical attention. Based on the view that perceptions of formality are influenced by organisational culture and structural design, this research is likely to draw heavily on theories of upward communication as well as theories underpinning voice and silence. Applications are invited for this PhD proposal from strong candidates with experience and interest in both qualitative and quantitative methods.

References

Brooks, S. (2017) ‘How Does Perceived Formality Shape Unheard Challenging Voices?’, International Journal of Human Resource Management. Routledge, (December), pp. 1–20. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2017.1405359.
Detert, J. R. and Treviño, L. K. (2010) ‘Speaking Up to Higher-Ups: How Supervisors and Skip-Level Leaders Influence Employee Voice’, Organization Science, 21(1), pp. 249–270. doi: Brooks, S. (2017) ‘How Does Perceived Formality Shape Unheard Challenging Voices?’, International Journal of Human Resource Management. Routledge, (December), pp. 1–20. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2017.1405359.
Detert, J. R. and Treviño, L. K. (2010) ‘Speaking Up to Higher-Ups: How Supervisors and Skip-Level Leaders Influence Employee Voice’, Organization Science, 21(1), pp. 249–270. doi: 10.1287/orsc.1080.0405.
Glauser, M. J. (1984) ‘Upward Information Flow in Organizations: Review and Conceptual Analysis’, Human Relations, 37(8), pp. 613–643. doi: 10.1177/001872678403700804.
Harlos, K. P. (2001) ‘When Organizational Voice Systems Fail: More on the Deaf-Ear Syndrome and Frustration Effects’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 37(3), pp. 324–342. doi: 10.1177/0021886301373005.
Jablin, F. M. (1979) ‘Superior-Subordinate Communication: The State of the Art’, Psychological Bulletin, 86(6), pp. 1201–1222. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.86.6.1201.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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